Easter Pilgrimage to The ‘Stone…

We had our “sunrise service” to kick off Easter Sunday yesterday. (I put “sunrise” in quotes, because by the time we get there at 7:00 a.m. the sun has been up for a long time. But I digress…)

Anyway, after our “sunrise” service, I bit the bullet and headed up to check out my buddy Gary Lamb’s Easter service at RidgeStone Church. Now Gary’s been my buddy for a long time, but I’ve never actually been to RidgeStone before yesterday.

I’ve gotta tell ya…I was very disappointed in what happened at RidgeStone’s Easter services.

See, I know all these folks who are dead-set against “contemporary,” “purpose-driven,” “seeker-friendly,” whatever-you-want-to-call-it churches, and they rant and rave against them all the time. And I know some of them have had Gary and RidgeStone in their sights for a while.

Well, first off, I pulled up at the theater where RidgeStone meets, and you know what? I was greeted by more than one friendly person. No, it didn’t appear to be that they were “putting on” the friendly routine. They seemed to be genuinely enthusiastic and welcoming! Go figure…

Some of those “critics” say that the leaders of some of these churches are egotistical, megalomaniacs, only interested in building their own kingdoms. That they are too aloof from the regular Joes and Janes of the world. Guess what? Gary – the lead pastor, the big kahuna, da man himself – was out and among the people as they gathered for the service. He was encouraging the volunteers, greeting folks and, in the words of somebody famous, walking slowly through the crowds. Go figure…

Then the service started and I knew, from listening to some of the “critics,” that there was going to be that “devil rock-n-roll,” that “satanic” music that appeals only to the baser instincts and desires of the flesh. Guess what? The band rocked, for sure. But guess what else? The music was pure worship and praise – glorifying God, lifting up Jesus, and building up the participants. Go figure…

Then it was time for Gary to preach. And I knew from some of the “critics,” that pastors like Gary water down the Gospel. They supposedly take a couple of isolated passages of Scripture and weave them together in some convoluted psycho-babble substitute for “real preaching.” (You know, verse-by-verse “expository” preaching. The kind of preaching Jesus did. But I digress…) Guess what? Gary could have been preaching at any evangelical church in the world. Heck, he could’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of his message at pastor’s conferences and other such gatherings. You know what he had the audacity to do? He talked about the Bible as an objective source of truth and reality! Wow! No watering down in that message! No apology for preaching the Bible, either. Go figure…

Well, I say all that to say this: I was disappointed in what they did at RidgeStone’s Easter service. Very disappointed.

See, at RidgeStone Church, Gary and his team are teaching people how to serve the Lord and other people with a sense of joy, purpose, and fulfillment. They are leading attendees into a powerful experience of God in worship. They are teaching the truth of the Bible unapologetically and boldly. They are doing their part to fulfill the Great Commission in Canton, Georgia.

But they aren’t teaching people how to flush after they use the facilities. That’s it…of all the stuff the “critics” say about churches like RidgeStone and pastors like Gary, what they’re missing is the lack of personal hygiene among some of the attendees. Amazing!

Thanks, Gary, Tim, and the whole RidgeStone team for making my Easter a powerful and positive day!